Ramadan is almost upon us. With that in mind, I’d like to address an important concern that exists within our ummah. Ramadan is a festive and very spiritual time for us. We connect with family, friends, ourselves, and above all — with God. During this amazing month, there is a group that tends to be neglected. I’m referring to the converts to Islam.
A convert sometimes doesn’t have the support of their family and usually end up celebrating this joyous month alone. The idea of being alone throughout Ramadan is daunting to me, since I’ve grown up to associate the month with getting close to my family. Which is why I want to stress the importance of reaching out to converts that you know and inviting them over to open fasts with you. They’re new to the Muslim community and should feel welcome- — ESPECIALLY during the month known for large social gatherings. I’m also not saying only to accept them just for this month either.
I’m writing this letter today because I’ve encountered converts who opened up about how much they feel isolated within the Muslim community. And it’s also not limited to them — other Muslims feel left out as well. It appalls me that this issue continues to persist even when our generation boasts about being the “most connected.” Just proves that no matter how advanced we get, human nature never changes.
Instead of distancing yourself from a different or new member of your community, because you don’t want to “disturb them” or thinking, “they probably don’t want to talk to me,” “they might have other plans,” or “they’re too different from me,” I say you GO UP TO THEM and TALK TO THEM. A simple greeting or asking about their day can make a WORLD of difference. Converts are discovering a second family when they embrace Islam and it’s not fair to them when we single them out or leave them alone. If any of my family members left me out, I would be upset, angry, and feel bad about myself, like “What if there is something wrong with me?” Do you see the amount of absolute bullshit that is?
One convert I talked to stopped coming to the mosque because she felt like she didn’t belong. The reason was that everyone broke off into cliques — you have the Arabs over there, the Pakistanis down there and it goes on…
This is kind of outrageous. I know it can be hard to reach out to someone, especially someone who is different from you, but you have to try. And I don’t mean just saying hello and calling it a day, but REALLY try — invite them to your house, go Ramadan shopping together, pray together, learn about each other’s cultures. At least invite them over for an iftar-or two, or even to come celebrate Eid with you and your family. We can’t boast about being a very connected religion if we can’t even accept new members to our community.
So this Ramadan, reach out to converts in your community or anyone else that you know is usually alone. Welcome them with open hearts for this upcoming month is the month of mercy and acceptance and before we can connect with God about these things, we must connect to each other.